Steve Pritzker & Iowa Women's Rowing

By Sparks Editorial Staff | October 23, 2012

With a new state-of-the-art boathouse as of 2009, and a new head coach as of fall 2012, the Hawkeye rowing is looking at some major changes. Head Coach Steve Pritzker says it's going to be a "drastic change in style and approach…we're aware of the challenges, but also excited."

"I try to put myself in the athlete's shoes. What would I need to do this or that? How would I want to be treated at races and practices?"

Pritzker seems to be no stranger to accepting challenges himself, having been a student-athlete at Yale University, where he earned four varsity letters and various medals. In 2004, Pritzker began volunteering with the women's team at the University of Virginia, where he was a full-time graduate student. After earning his masters, Pritzker became a full-time part of the staff, and was named associate head coach in 2007. During his nine seasons with Virginia, the Cavaliers won two NCAA team championships, two runner-up finishes in 2005 and 2007, and eight ACC titles. Pritzker himself was named National Assistant Coach of the Year by the Collegiate Rowing Association in 2007 and 2010, making him the only coach to receive the award twice.

Pritzker is hoping to bring that culture of success to the Division I rowing program at Iowa, by creating an environment where the athletes are excited to compete and ready to be challenged,and where all aspects of the student-athlete can be developed: mental, emotional, and physical.He wants to empower the athletes to think and to challenge him just as much as he challenges them. Pritzker's ideal athlete? "Someone with a great attitude and the right physical attributes and abilities…confident but humble about what they need to do, and willing to work hard."

Pritzker's ideal athlete? "Someone with a great attitude and the right physical attributes and abilities…confident but humble about what they need to do, and willing to work hard."

Recruiting those kinds of athletes is going to become a "major component" for the Hawkeyes; they're looking to get the word out that Iowa is a place where high school athletes can succeed,whether their sport has been rowing or not. Having a head coach with such a stellar track record certainly helps, but the facilities at Iowa don't hurt either. Opened in 2009, the 20,000 square-foot, $7.2 million P. Sue Beck with Boathouse was built to withstand flooding, and is LEED-certified (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design). It is close to campus, and boasts an erg room and locker rooms with surround-sound speakers, several flat-screen televisions, an athletic training room, a conference room, four boat bays, and a state-of-the-art rowing tank. "It has everything we need," says Pritzker. On top of that, weight-lifting facilities at Carver-Hawkeye Arena have also recently renovated, providing the Hawkeyes with plenty of space and quality equipment to work with during strength sessions.

It is close to campus, and boasts an erg room and locker rooms with surround-sound speakers, several flat-screen televisions, an athletic training room, a conference room, four boat bays, and a state-of-the-art rowing tank. "It has everything we need," says Pritzker.

Fancy facilities aside, Pritzker wants to place the emphasis on giving his student-athletes a good experience, and giving everybody a chance to develop to their fullest potential by giving them his full attention. "I try to put myself in the athlete's shoes. What would I need to do this or that? How would I want to be treated at races and practices?" He wants the athletes to "know in their hearts that I have their best interests at heart," and to "improve every time we're out here." It's going to take time, but Pritzker is ready to put in the work to build the program to the point where Iowa can become competitive in the Big Ten, and in turn, on the national scale.